Amygdala–Prefrontal Interactions and Conditioned Bradycardia in the Rabbit

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Damage to the amygdala or medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) produces deficits in learned autonomic adjustments. Whether connections between these 2 structures are necessary for acquiring classically conditioned heart rate (HR) decelerations was studied. Connections between them were interrupted by unilateral lesions of the mPFC and amygdala, but on opposite sides of the brain. One experiment focused on the mPFC and amygdala central nucleus and a second on the mPFC and amygdala basolateral complex. Bilateral lesions of either structure disrupted the HR conditioned response. The response of the 2 crossed lesioned groups also was smaller than that of the sham-operated and unilateral lesioned groups, but significant conditioned stimulus–evoked bradycardia occurred in both, suggesting that although interactions between the amygdala and mPFC may normally occur during associative emotional responding, these connections are not necessary for the acquisition of conditioned bradycardia.

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